Education Nation Learning Plaza
In New York City, you have a chance to see what education is really like in America.
From Sunday through Thursday, Rockefeller Plaza has been transformed into the NBC News Education Nation Learning Plaza. The Learning Plaza is a sort of education tree with five leaves. Each leaf represents different aspects of what's happening in the education system.
The first leaf is The Learner. When you walk in you come to a touch-screen assessment that tells you what kind of learner you are. I took the quiz, which I realized was a personality test about my learning skills. The quiz told me that I'm a social learner. Part of the reason I'm a social learner is because I like to talk during class — even though my teacher doesn't like it — to understand what's going on.
The Learner is the first stop on a journey through education in America. The other leaves are The Educator, Call to Action, Schools and Community, and The Nation. As you go through the Learning Plaza, you go from the personal to the national. In other words, The Learner is about you as a student, and the final leaf, The Nation, is about how the whole country learns.
One of the things visitors will notice when they come to the Learning Plaza is that America isn't doing as well as they might think when it comes to education. For example, in The Nation leaf, stats about where the country ranks in certain education categories are posted on the walls. These stats reveal that America is 10th out of 30 nations in literacy, 25th in mathematics, and 21st in science.
"Based on what I've seen, it's pretty bad," Jacqueline Gaines, a parent from New York, said about the state of education in America. "We're not doing very well as far as test scores are concerned."
But while test scores are a problem, other people at the Learning Plaza saw other issues in the American education system.
"The way education is taught in America, there can be a lot of improvement. But I think the first thing is having children back in uniform," Shanie Peraud, a parent from New York but originally from Guyana, South America, said. "I think the uniform is a form of discipline. I think that's really, really important for students."
Education Nation is meant to generate conversation and ideas about how to improve learning in America. The Learning Plaza is an important part of that conversation, and it's already getting people talking.
PHOTO: Kid Reporter Kenny Figueroa at Learning Plaza at Rockefeller Center in New York, Sunday, September 26, 2010. Photo Courtesy Scholastic Inc.